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The Uncommon Reader (2006)

by Alan Bennett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,0645321,503 (3.93)738
The Uncommon Reader is none other than Her Majesty the Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace. She reads widely and intelligently. Her reading naturally changes her world view and her relationship with people.
  1. 90
    84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (teelgee)
  2. 60
    Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman (fannyprice, _Zoe_)
  3. 52
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Going in to the bookmobile to apologize for the disturbance created by one of her corgis, Queen Elizabeth II feels it would only be polite to check out a book. When she returns it, she checks out another . . . and then another. One of her pages becomes her abettor in the matter of securing books and reading them. Thus begins an amusing but also thought-provoking saga of how reading can change a person's habits and even outlook.… (more)
  4. 20
    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (wisemetis)
  5. 20
    Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon (smallbrownbushbird)
  6. 20
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (raulvilar)
  7. 10
    Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn (chazzard)
  8. 10
    Talking Heads by Alan Bennett (akfarrar)
    akfarrar: Both these books explore the byways of characters whilst remaining unsentimental. They both expose weaknesses in modern British society if not in humanity. There is a wit in both and a degree of black humour.
  9. 00
    Soft in the Head by Marie-Sabine Roger (albavirtual)
  10. 00
    The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (suzanney)
  11. 00
    Mist by Miguel de Unamuno (albavirtual)
    albavirtual: También sobre libros y lecturas, pero sobre todo sobre el juego de la creación literaria, y sobre como los personajes de una novela quieren influir sobre el creador de la misma ¡¡¡¡¡¡
  12. 00
    The Clothes They Stood Up In by Alan Bennett (jannis)
  13. 00
    The Last Reader by David Toscana (Cecilturtle)
  14. 01
    The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Brimming with quirky Britishness, these novels take on the transformative powers of doing something different. While the more humorous, satirical Uncommon Reader imagines the Queen as an increasingly sophisticated reader, the more reflective Unlikely Pilgrimage is moving and poignant.… (more)
  15. 03
    The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco (Alixtii)
    Alixtii: Both books having writers getting meta about the nature of writing and reading as a protagonist goes through a process of reading very (and I mean very) many books. Both are written with wit and insight, although Eco's book is better.

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» See also 738 mentions

English (485)  Spanish (11)  Italian (9)  Dutch (9)  German (6)  French (5)  Danish (5)  Catalan (3)  Swedish (2)  Thingamabrarian (the ideal language) (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (537)
Showing 1-5 of 485 (next | show all)
This was delightful! ( )
  KimMeyer | Sep 8, 2020 |
I love Bennett's prose, its like taking a long soak in a warm bath. ( )
  arewenotben | Jul 31, 2020 |
Si sus célebres perros hubieran respondido a su llamada, la reina no habría descubierto el vehículo de la biblioteca móvil del ayuntamiento aparcado junto a las puertas de las cocinas del palacio. Y no habría conocido a Norman, el pinche de cocina que estaba leyendo un libro de Cecil Beaton e iba a constituirse en su asesor literario. Pero la reina decide llevarse un libro. ¿Y qué puede interesar a alguien cuyo único oficio es mostrarse interesada? Porque una reina nunca debe ser interesante, ni tener otros intereses que los de sus súbditos. Y jamás habla de sus gustos, sólo pregunta por los de ellos. Isabel II de Inglaterra halla en la biblioteca el libro de una escritora que conoce, Ivy Compton-Burnett. Tiempo atrás le había concedido un título nobiliario menor. Y de Compton-Burnett a Proust, y de Proust a Genet, sólo median algunos libros. Así, azarosamente, ella, que hasta entonces sólo había sido una reina, una pura entelequia, descubrirá el vértigo de la lectura, del ser, del placer.
Alan Bennett, que desde 1960 se pasea de la televisión al teatro, del cine a los libros, de la alta a la baja cultura, continúa, para deleite de sus lectores, saltándose todos los límites con esta miniatura exquisita, mordiente y divertida.
«Alan Bennett imagina en esta encantadora nouvelle lo que podría ocurrir si la soberana de Inglaterra fuera presa de repente de una intensa, devoradora pasión por los libros. Y lo que en otras manos podría resultar un ejercicio forzado, o un irrespetuoso y frívolo delito de lesa majestad, aquí es una comedia deliciosa, y una poderosa reflexión sobre el poder, y el poder de la letra impresa... Los admiradores de sus obras teatrales, de sus ensayos y sus diarios, saben que Bennett es uno de los más sutiles y elegantes escritores de nuestra época» (Michael Dirda, The Washington Post).
«Tan grande es el encanto de este libro, que podríamos fácilmente tomarlo por un amable jeu d?esprit; una de esas agudas, melancólicas fábulas realistas que Bennett urde con inmensa maestría. Pero es más que eso. Bajo su atractivo más inmediato, bulle una salvaje indignación, digna de Jonathan Swift, contra la estupidez, el filisteísmo y la arrogancia del poder, y una apasionada defensa del poder civilizador del arte» (Jane Shilling, The Times).
«Bennett es el equivalente literario de un caricaturista genial. Se apropia de todos los tópicos sobre la reina y los hace encajar en el universo bennettiano. Y uno nunca puede olvidar su feroz inteligencia, su divertido interés por lo trivial» (Sam Leith, The Spectator).
«Un cuento de hadas cautivador, delicioso y muy divertido. Una aguda meditación acerca del subversivo placer de la lectura» (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times). ( )
  Lucia19 | May 1, 2020 |
This was an absolutely delightful meditation on the value of reading. The idea of the Queen becoming a voracious reader was inspired, as was Bennett's description of how her staff responds to this dismaying development. But how he used the premise to comment on what makes reading worthwhile is the real value of the book. If anything the book has become even more relevant since it was first published, making it a real testament to Bennett's brilliance as a writer and observer of the modern world. ( )
  MacDad | Mar 27, 2020 |
What an unexpected treat! A very quick read - an hour or two - but I really liked the premise. The 60-something Queen of England discovers reading for pleasure and it changes her life. (as those of us who enjoy reading already know) You know what I liked the best? That there were LOTS of words I didn't know.....I love reading a book that introduces me to new vocabulary. Read it for fun, but also read it to expand your mind. Highly recommended! - this book fills my "read in a day" category. ( )
  Terrie2018 | Feb 21, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 485 (next | show all)
Det är träffsäkert, roligt och nästan oanständigt underhållande...
Bennett manages to touch on some pointed issues in this little volume: life experience versus book experience; the pleasure of reading versus the sterility of being briefed; the riddle of what is "natural" behavior when a person lives so much in the public eye. And he makes you whoop with laughter while he's at it.
In recounting this story of a ruler who becomes a reader, a monarch who’d rather write than reign, Mr. Bennett has written a captivating fairy tale. It’s a tale that’s as charming as the old Gregory Peck-Audrey Hepburn movie “Roman Holiday,” and as keenly observed as Stephen Frears’s award-winning movie “The Queen” — a tale that showcases its author’s customary élan and keen but humane wit.
The Uncommon Reader is a political and literary satire. But it's also a lovely lesson in the redemptive and subversive power of reading and how one book can lead to another and another and another.
This time, his odd, isolated heroine is the queen of England. The story of her budding love affair with literature blends the comic and the poignant so smoothly it can only be by Bennett. It’s not his very best work, but it distills his virtues well enough to suggest how such a distinctive style might have arisen.

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bennett, AlanAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boda, SofiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Damsma, HarmTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herzke, IngoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ménard, PierreTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miedema, NiekTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pavani, MonicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salojärvi, HeikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steinz, PeterForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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At Windsor it was the evening of the state banquet and as the president of France took his place beside Her Majesty, the royal family formed up behind and the procession slowly moved off and through into the Waterloo Chamber.
Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting.
Had she been asked if reading had enriched her life she would have had to say yes, undoubtedly, though adding with equal certainty that it had at the same time drained her life of all purpose.
She read, of course, as one did, but liking books was something she left to other people. It was a hobby and it was in the nature of her job that she didn't have hobbies. Jogging, growing roses, chess or rock climbing, cake decoration, model aeroplanes. No. Hobbies involved preferences and preferences had to be avoided; preferences excluded people.
The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something undeferring about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included.
Indulged and bad-tempered though they were, the dogs were not unintelligent, so it was not surprising that in a short space of time they came to hate books as the spoilsports that they were (and always have been).
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Wikipedia in English (1)

The Uncommon Reader is none other than Her Majesty the Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace. She reads widely and intelligently. Her reading naturally changes her world view and her relationship with people.

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From the back cover: When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large.
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